Working in a group definitely has a lot of perks and can be an extremely rewarding experience. Still, no group will magically work together perfectly from the very beginning. There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to group development, and every aspect of the group dynamic must be taken into account. In 1963, Bruce Tuckman came up with 4 stages of group development (forming, storming, norming, and performing), to which he added a fifth one (adjourning) more than 10 years later. Today, we’re going to explore the 5 stages of group development and see how you can apply them to any group.
Once people are more comfortable with each other, they’ll also address more important and sensitive issues. Keep in mind that this may lead to conflicts.
5 Stages of Group Development Explained
Stage 1: Forming
The first stage consists of people getting to know each other, assuming that they’re complete strangers. Even if they’re not, if they’ve never worked together, they still have to establish a certain dynamic. Everyone is usually quite anxious at this time, because they want people to like them. That’s why there aren’t any real arguments or fights taking place now, because people tend to avoid confrontation. Most of the focus of the team is on how to organize themselves, and on the tasks they have to accomplish.
Stage 2: Storming
Once people are more comfortable with each other, they’ll also address more important and sensitive issues. Keep in mind that this may lead to conflicts. Competition also arises now. Thus, you should expect your team to dispute the roles and responsibilities of the people in the team. Now, depending on how you manage to deal with this stage, the conflicts will be suppressed sooner or later. The important thing to remember is that the team needs rules, especially during the storming stage of group development.
Stage 3: Norming
Once you’ve managed to provide your team with some clarity and specific rules, they’re going to settle down and enter the norming stage. This stage is when the group will actually become a team in the proper sense of the word. They’re going to form a community, recognize each other’s abilities, form connections, trust each other, support each other, and so on.
Stage 4: Performing
Now that the group has become a team, they’re more likely to be productive together and perform at their best. The performing stage is when everybody is focused on what they have to do, and motivated to do it. The team members are capable of working both separately and as a team, and they all take on different roles. You’ll probably also notice a high morale and a sense of group identity that you’ve never seen before in your team.
Stage 5: Adjourning
Since all good things must come to an end, the team will eventually dismantle once they’ve achieved their goals. This is precisely what the adjourning stage is all about. This doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be a sad thing, but something to be proud of. The group managed to become a team and work together harmoniously, and they should celebrate this. While some people might mourn the breaking up of the team, remembering past accomplishments and moving on is the next natural step.
We hope these 5 stages of group development have managed to show you what to expect the next time you’ll be part of a team or will have to lead one.
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